Read Rates: The Secret Ingredient to a Successful Email Marketing Program

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A few weeks ago I took my very first cooking class. I’ve never considered myself to be a great chef but I will admit I do know my way around a kitchen. During my class, I started to get ahead of the instructor and the rest of the class because I thought I knew what I was doing. After class, I started eating the food I made and realized my dish tasted okay, but it was not the best. I had a few of my friends try my dish and they all thought the exact same thing. I tried a friend’s dish and thought her dish tasted 10 times better than mine. But I was not able to put a finger on what was missing. Later on in the class, our instructor tried my dish and set down the spoon with a look of pure disgust on her face. She looked at me and with a smirk told me I forgot the most important ingredient: Lime. Obviously, I am still upset about it.

One ingredient can either make a dish delicious or a complete dud. The same is true about read rates for an email marketing program. Read rates are sometimes overlooked but are a vital part of an email marketer’s campaign.

Return Path defines a read rate in The Hidden Metrics of Email Deliverability as, “The number of emails marked as read out of all emails sent. Read rate is similar to open rate, but is far more accurate because it accounts for all emails viewed, regardless of image rendering.” The read rate metric is important because it reveals how your subject lines are landing with your subscribers—as the subject line is the first thing your subscribers see when your message arrives in their mailbox. If your subject line is alluring and lands well with your subscribers, you will most likely see high read rates for those campaigns. Checking your read rates will reveal the preferences of your subscribers and what it takes for them to engage.

Engagement is an important metric that most mailbox providers use to ensure their users are receiving wanted mail. Read rates show which subject lines generated less engagement or which campaigns did not land well with your subscribers. Being able to detect low engagement gives you an opportunity to reevaluate your content, subject line, and program to ensure it is still relevant. Testing out different subject lines and content is a great way to find that sweet spot with your subscribers and see an increase in engagement. High engagement is a vital part of getting into your subscribers’ inboxes and staying out of the spam folder, making read rates are one of the most important ingredients to a great email marketing program.